The proposed demolition of Toronto’s Foundry buildings to make way for affordable housing has stirred up controversy, particularly amongst those who want to keep the existing heritage buildings.
Toronto-based Urban Strategies, an urban design and planning consultancy, has published three potential designs for the property that would keep important heritage elements while adding much-needed affordable housing.
In October, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, had issued a Ministerial Zoning Order that allowed construction crews to bypass the municipal planning regulations of the site and begin demolishing the buildings.
But in January, after a demolition crew showed up on the lot, a judge ruled that the Foundry demolition needed to be halted, pending a further decision in March. Then, earlier this month, the Ontario government announced it would begin a public consultation period for the Foundry site.
All three of Urban Strategy’s alternatives would yield 1,045 total residential units with 264 affordable units and would max out at 41 storeys in height.
The first design calls for three towers of varying heights — 41 storeys, 20 storeys, and 18 storeys — to go up in the spaces adjacent to the existing heritage buildings, with the tallest tower anchored in the middle.
The affordable housing would all be located in the 18-storey building on the eastern side of the property. In addition to the residential units, this design also makes space for cultural and arts uses, office space, and retail.
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The second alternative is also a three-tower design but would have towers descending in height from west to east. There would be a 40-storey building, a 29-storey building, and then a 21-storey building.
The existing Machine Shop building would be transformed into an inside/outside cultural, community, and arts space. Office and retail space would be accommodated in the other existing Foundry buildings.
The final design proposal calls for two towers, one 40 storeys and the other 30 storeys. With only two buildings, this design frees up space for a new public square on the property’s southwest corner.
The affordable housing would be located in a lower podium along Eastern Avenue, and the community and arts space would be located in the 40-storey tower.
The public consultation is currently open on the Government of Ontario’s website and will close its commenting period on March 4.